Best Practices for Lead Generation in Higher Education

By Frank HealySeptember 3, 2014

The higher education industry has shifted dramatically in light of the recovering economy, changing technology and new government regulations. This shift is reflected by recent trends in the industry. Educational inquiries are down from recent years as students return to the workforce. Online program enrollments are on the decline, while campus enrollments remain steady. Health care and medical degree enrollments are increasing while business degrees slowly decrease. More students are using mobile phones to research colleges and universities, opening opportunities for mobile and text advertising. Negative press surrounding student loans and the education system are making students question the value of a degree. Schools are responding to legislation with increased compliance and transparency standards, and re-evaluating their recruitment methods. Amongst all these changes, schools and inquiry generators alike need to quickly adapt their inquiry generation methods.

The higher education vertical is unique in the lead generation industry as a result of its vast array of organizations. In paid search, education keywords are far more competitive than other industries, meaning that costs are higher. As regulations increase, marketing methods are limited and companies must come up with new and effective ways to reach potential students. According to Google, about 80 percent of students haven’t decided which school to attend when they begin their education search, so colleges need to present students with their school offerings as soon as possible to be included in the consideration set. Unlike some industries, education is not a one-size-fits-all solution, so matching students with programs that they will excel in is vital.

In the past, lead generation has focused on quantity over quality, but the industry has shifted for the better to focus on high-quality leads above all else. First and foremost, compliance and transparency are not optional. Make sure that prospects are fully aware of your matching process. Websites should have clear disclosures and messages, and contact center representatives need to be fully informative and honest to allow students to make choices based on best fit. Successful inquiries are those who trust your organization to meet their needs. Mobile advertising allows organizations to create click-to-call campaigns, connecting students directly to schools for questions and application information. Changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) have opened the door for organizations to text consenting inquiries, and marketers should take advantage of this by creating relevant texting campaigns for today’s generation. Companies should also be using data verification services to increase lead quality while reducing return rates.

The colleges and organizations that will be successful through changes in the industry are those that pay attention to student needs. As the workforce changes, highlight programs that translate into in-demand careers. As technology changes, adapt the way you reach out and communicate with prospects. From government to colleges to lead partners, the main goal in the higher education industry should always be successful students and graduates.

Higher Ed Growth is a full-service marketing agency specializing in post-secondary education. Higher Ed Growth has a long history of understanding and evolving to provide compliant solutions. Visit to learn more about our services and how quality prospects lead to successful students.

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